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Strings Music Festival: We get by with a little help from our friends

Kristine Kilbourne
For the Steamboat Pilot & Today
The Strings Music Festival summer season comes to a close on Friday, Aug. 24.
Courtesy photo
Upcoming events: Sept. 20: The California Honeydrops Sept. 23: Strings on the Slopes featuring NEENEE NENEE African Drum Ensemble Sept. 25: Graham Nash Jan. 25, 2019: Marc Cohn (tickets on sale in October) March 15, 2019: Lady Smith Black Mambazo (tickets on sale in October)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Behind every rock star is a great band. Behind every home run hitter is a hardworking coach.

Behind every Strings Music Festival season is a hard-working, sometimes unseen, team of people.

When the stage lights come up and the first chords ring through the Strings Pavilion, you’re probably not thinking about transportation or lodging. But, no pun intended, there are a lot of unsung heroes making sure musicians and audience members can enjoy the show.

In truth, bus drivers might be some of the bravest members of a musician’s team. They cruise through the night to get bands from one gig to the next, sometimes passing through icy mountains, wildfires and sleep-induced delirium.

When the buses arrive at Strings, drivers finally get to close their eyes. But when the encore is complete, they’ll be back on the road with rockers and crew in tow, like vampires in the night.

On the lucky chance that Steamboat Springs is a stopover for touring musicians, the band and crew might have the luxury of a hotel room or condo where they can shower and rest before hitting the open road. It’s no secret that Steamboat bloats with tourists throughout the summer, so hotel rooms aren’t always an easy-come, easy-go amenity.

Luckily, Strings has incredible partners in the lodging industry who let us book long stays and short, sometimes donating or trading for rooms.

On site at Pavilion, there’s a great deal of activity that happens in the shadows. On early mornings after concerts, the space is still buzzing but with vacuums rather than vocals. Our cleaning crews sweep through the Pavilion after every show, return for deeper cleans between concerts and to complete specialized tasks, like window cleaning, weeding and painting when there’s less activity in the spring and fall.

Backstage, our hospitality team ensures comfort and ease for musicians. Van Halen’s rider famously insisted on “absolutely no brown M&Ms.” While the purpose was to test a venue’s eye for detail rather than to be exploitative and diva-esque, we do see some very specific rider requests.

Some artists want a certain type of whiskey or wine, others insist that no alcohol be backstage. Some want baskets of towels and multi-course meals. Others need nothing at all. Whatever the demand, our hospitality staff is on-site to fulfill wishes, whether they include a dozen burgers from McDonalds or something more luxurious.

But perhaps the most humble of all the behind-the-scenes contributors are the hundreds of donors and sponsors who make the Strings Music Festival possible. Strings is a nonprofit organization and ticket sales cover only 34 percent of our costs. Without the dedication of volunteers, community partners, donors and sponsors, the Pavilion would stay dark all summer.

As our season comes to a close, we offer our thanks and gratitude for those who make the summer festival possible. To our donors, sponsors, volunteers, staff, musicians and the countless hands that carry the load every summer: Thank you. We hope to see you back for the 2019 summer festival and welcome you to the many events that will take place before then.

Kristine Kilbourne is the marketing director at Strings Music Festival. When not attending or promoting concerts, she enjoys making pottery, and hiking, paddling and skiing with her husband and her border collie.


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